CHICAGO (CBS) — An Avondale bar has issued a warning to small businesses – keep your eyes on your cash.
As CBS 2’s Marissa Perlman reported Friday night, DMen is the latest victim of a counterfeit money scam that has hit the neighborhood.
In the past 24 hours, two businesses near Elston, Belmont, and California avenues were handed fake $100 bills.
One of them was DMen Tap, 2849 W. Belmont Ave., where two women bought two drinks Thursday, paid with the fake cash, took the change, and took off.
While the bar only lost a few dollars, they are hoping to spread the message before other businesses get hit too.
The DMen Tap is known for fun and games. The bar features everything from goth and industrial nights to a Festivus celebration and a Krampus pop-up market.
“We’re kind of a nerd spot,” said co-owner Dave Duchek. “We like old video games, you know, we like pinball. We like music; movies.”
But being handed counterfeit cash was no joke to Duchek.
“People can just pass these out and get the real change back, and then the businesses are left kind of with the bag; with the bill,” Duchek said.
On Thursday night, two women paid their tab with a fake $100 bill. They left with the real change.
Duchek put a warning out on social media to the neighborhood – watch for fraudsters and check the cash you’re handed – twice.
“I’m in the trenches with all the other small businesses,” Duchek said.
Former FBI officials we spoke with told us the bill passed at DMen was bleached. The fraudster used a chemical to remove the ink on a smaller denomination of bill, and prints a higher dollar amount on the same bill.
There are a few security images that can give it away – including watermarks.
Held up to a flashlight, this particular bill bears the security thread reading “USA TEN,” and the watermark showing Alexander Hamilton.
This all gives away that the bill the women passed was really a $10 bill – which was bleached and then reprinted with the markings of a $100 bill depicting Benjamin Franklin.
None of this will show up with a counterfeit pen. The paper is real money.
This fooled the bartender who accepted it.
“It stayed yellow,” Duchek said. “She thought it was real.”
While the business didn’t lose much, Duchek still had a warning.
“The more people that know, the better,” he said.
In addition to DMen, a counterfeit bill was also passed at The Wolfhound Bar and Kitchen, 3188 N. Elston Ave.
Catching criminals passing counterfeit bills is a tough job. Small businesses should report the incident to their local police department, which will then work with the local branch of the U.S. Secret Service on investigators to track the money.
The owners of DMen Tap and The Wolfhound plan to do that on Saturday.